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Reconciliation Watch: GOP Getting Worried

All 41 Republican senators have signed an open letter asking Democratic leadership not to use the filibuster-proof reconciliation process to pass health care reform, a sure sign that the threat of reconciliation, which would allow the Senate to pass a health care reform bill with 51 votes instead of 60–issued again yesterday by Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius—is working for the Democrats.

The Weekly Standard (PDF) has the letter, which includes the usual minority party talking points:Reconciliation “would be a tremendous disservice to the country” that would “restrict the ability of Senators to amend and perfect” a health care plan, and so on.

The reality is that faced with possible exclusion from health care negotiations, GOPers have to at least pretend to be open to compromise. The threat imposes a choice: If Republicans don’t want a simple majority vote, then two more Republicans have to show they are serious about “amending and perfecting” health care by making real concessions and signing on to an Obama plan. Then the threat goes away—and the country gets health care reform. If all the Republicans choose the partisan route (as they did on the stimulus bill) then guess what? They’ll get the dreaded partisanship of a simple majority vote on health care—and the country gets health care reform.

Either way, Obama wins. Which is why Republicans are objecting more and more.

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